Category Archives: Holidailies 2022

Day Eight: At the Mountains of…

CW: This post contains a kitten death. Much sadness.

papercraft mountain range
At the Mountains of…

It’s only natural, when you think of mountains in Antarctica, to think of early twentieth-century writers of cosmic horror, like H. P. Lovecraft. So you can imagine the chill that went through me when I pulled out today’s papercraft piece from its envelope and unfolded it in front of me. A mountain range! In Antarctica! Assuming these are Antarctic adventures, of course.

The narrative that accompanies today’s papercraft mountains say that mysterious creatures are said to live there. Well, I think I know what creatures they are! Shoggoths! Elder things! The great conical beings of Yith! Ia! Ia!


Anyway, I fear for the dark turns that this tale of Pancake and Pep will take.

Here is a song that encapsulates the feeling precisely:

In other news, we lost a foster kitten the other day. Lyric was a sweet little thing. I have warmer hands than Jennifer, so I was holding her close to my chest while she gasped for breath occasionally, ice cold, trying to warm her up. We fed her Karo (which sometimes helps with kittens in distress), gave her fluids, rubbed her little belly, lay her on top of heating pads. I whispered to her, telling her it was okay if it was time to go. So eventually, she did. I had very little interaction with Lyric while she was with us, but still, I found myself weeping just a little.

Jennifer has a much better written post about this here.

‘Tis a maddening, harrowing, and very sad season of Holidailies!

Today’s Episcopal Advent Calendar is about bless. It reads, “Call or write a letter to a family member with whom you would like to have a closer relationship. Make plans in the new year to chat on the phone or meet over Zoom or in person. Let them know how much you love them and look forward to knowing them better”

I’ll do that later today. I have a hard time keeping up with friends and family when they’re not actually in my presence; this time last year I made a promise that I would actually call someone who was close to me (friend or family) every Sunday. Did I actually follow through? No, of course not. So I plan to make that promise again this year.

Day Seven: A Tree Grows in Antarctica

Two papercraft Christmas trees
Today’s papercraft Christmas trees, sitting alone on my computer. And if you look carefully you can see a cat butt behind them!

Now, I may be educationally impaired when it comes to these things, but I’m reasonably sure that pine trees do not grow in Antarctica. But maybe when Pancake exclaims to Pep, “I may be crazy, but I think those are Christmas trees!” they have made it from Antarctica to an evergreen forest somewhere. I’m not sure. The storyline doesn’t say anything about it.

But here’s where I think a backpack for Pep the fish would be useful. She’s a fish. On the land. Maybe she’s a lungfish? At any rate, I believe that a backpack with oxygenated water and tube would be useful for Pep.

I’m also reasonably sure there are no pine trees underneath the ocean near Antarctica.

I am, of course, ready to admit that I may be wrong! If any of my readers can think of a reason why Pancake and Pep might have encountered Christmas trees on their journey, please feel free to leave a comment!

Have you planted a tree for Holidailies 2022?

The Episcopal Advent calendar for today (for Prayer) reads: “Pray along with the Collect for Advent 2, found on page 211 of The Book of Common Prayer. As you are out and about for the rest of this week, notice the people you pass. Ask God to bless them in their lives and work. See how this changes the way you go about your week.” I have difficulty praying along with passages from the Book of Common Prayer, even though it is, as its very title implies, a prayer book. Most of the prayers are meant to be prayed during Mass, led by a priest. I’ll do my best, though, and see how things shift in the next few days.

Day Six: Equipping for the Journey

In today’s segment of the adventure, Pancake the Penguin gets her backpack for the key. The packet contained a piece of cardstock with four paper backpacks attached. Here you see the selection:

Piece of cardstock with paper backpacks attached

There’s one missing here, because by the time I’d thought to take a picture of the Penguin Outback Store, I had already selected and removed the green one, green being my favorite color. The idea is that you put the backpack on Pancake the Penguin, then insert the key (that we got on Day Four) into it. Here’s Pancake with her backpack and key:

Forgive the lighting. It’s terrible. It’s my own fault.

I loved backpacks when I was in high school and college, and would take my own sweet time when shopping for one for the school year. I was never really into outdoor backpacking as an activity (I’ve only gone once, at Lassen Park, and that was quite a fun adventure which I will discuss in another post), so the backpacks I bought were mostly for school use. Now I just have a Josten backpack that I bought at Target for about $20 five years or so ago. It doesn’t get much use since I’m no longer in college and I work at home. It’s a good workhorse, though.

But look at me still talking about backpacks when you want to learn more about Pancake’s journey. Sorry for the digression.

I think it’s unfair that Pep doesn’t get a backpack. And tomorrow’s adventure explains why I think that way.

Setting out on an adventure for Holidailies 2022!

Today’s Advent reading from the Episcopal Advent Calendar (focusing on the Learn segment of the Way of Love) is, “Read Luke 1:45. Share your faith story with one new person this week. It can be someone you have known for a while who has not heard the faith part of your story. Well, I feel like I’ve already done this: see Happy Zombie Jesus Day Part One and Part Two. You’re more than welcome to click through and read.

I feel like I ought to contribute more to our community. Sacramento’s a big city, and with a big city there are Big Problems. So I contacted the coordinator of the Sacramento ACT organization which works with Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and got an email back last night. I will get back in touch and see if I can get involved there.

Day Five: A Visit to a Penguin Mom

A penguin wearing a scarf.
Pancake the Penguin’s mom is also a penguin.

Today is Day 5 of the Journey of Pancake the Penguin, whose sister is a fish and who is on a quest for a magical chest that will give her the power of flight on Christmas Day. So what does the adopted sister and best friend get on Christmas Day? I don’t know. Lungs, maybe. Or all the plankton she can eat.

But today, Pancake and Pep approach their mother to tell her that they are going on a quest. Their mother — who is wearing a scarf, as you can see in the photograph above — basically tells them, “Be careful”. Pancake and Pep promise that they’ll be careful. We’ll see what happens in tomorrow’s adventure.

Of course, I remember what “being careful” means when you’re a kid. I had these conversations with my own mom:

ME: I’m off to play in the vacant lot half a mile away with my friends!

MOM: Okay, be careful!

ME: [Immediately tries to create a hole in the dirt with firecrackers]

That really happened! Where we lived (I forget what ages we were) there was a huge vacant lot not too far away from our house. My friends and I would spend hours there, doing all kinds of things, because it wasn’t just a vacant lot! It had hills and holes and the ruins of an abandoned gas station and more! Naturally, this was heaven for an over-imaginative kid like me. I had this theory that there was a minotaur — yes, a minotaur, straight out of Grecian myth — that lived in a cave underneath the abandoned gas station and ate battery acid. I don’t know where I came up with that. I also remember looking out the window of my grandparents’ house and seeing the head of a minotaur moving across the skyline, but that may have been a dream (though it also explains my fondness for kaiju stories).

And yes, one day my friends and I decided we needed to deepen one of the holes in the vacant lot, so one of us brought a bunch of firecrackers because, hey, miners used explosions to dig holes, so we could as well. As far as I can recall, none of us lost our fingers. Nor did the hole really get much deeper. Experiment: Fail.

Pancake and Pep probably don’t play with firecrackers in the ocean, though, and not just because the firecrackers wouldn’t ignite. They are a good sister/sister pair and would never even ponder such an idea, now would they?

Blowin’ things up for Holidailies 2022!

Today’s message in the Episcopal Advent Calendar, centering on the “Go” stage in the way of love, is: “Read or watch your local news. Ask God to open your heart and eyes to ways you can promote reconciliation and healing in your community.”

Gotta think about that one. There are ways and ways to help out in the local community. I don’t mind sending money to the food bank, to the women’s shelter, and other charitable organizations in the area. I have an allergy to the idea of running for local office, though I’m sure I’d be able to counter the loonies who bust into school board meetings demanding that their children be taught that trees invented automobiles or something equally silly. I can write. I can volunteer. I can find all kinds of ways to help.

Day Four: A KEY!

CW: Penguins, Religion

I’m keeping the religious/spiritual part of this part at the bottom, so you can go ahead and skip it if you like.


Today’s Adventure for Pancake and Pep involves going to their uncle Nav, who apparently owns a golden key that can open a secret treasure chest. Here is a picture of the key:

A paper key!
Uncle Nav’s Mysterious Key

Inside the chest is Secret Christmas Magic that will make a penguin able to FLY on Christmas Day! Now this is spiffy. It reminds me of the book, A Wish for Wings that Work, by Berkeley Breathed. It features Opus the Penguin from the comic strip Bloom County, and that’s about all I know about it. It was published in 1991 — 1991, people! Back before the turn of the century! BEFORE THE TURN OF THE MILLENNIUM! AIGH! Ahem. — and I don’t think I’ve read it since then.

Anyway, it seems sad that Pep doesn’t get to have any special adventures on Christmas Day. Does Pep get to fly as well? Or walk on land? I don’t know. Perhaps at some point, we’ll learn.

I was also sad that today’s piece is not something to assemble, just a piece of key-shaped cardstock paper. I will place it on the molding, next to Pep, and hope it doesn’t fall off when the wind blows.

‘Tis a season for Holidailies!

Advent wreath with two candles lit

Today marks the beginning the second week of Advent season 2022. Some time ago, Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, began preaching about the Way of Love — “If it’s not about love,” he says, “it’s not about God.” — which has seven stages. In the Episcopal Church’s Advent calendar, each day of each week is associated with a different stage of the Way of Love. The stages or steps are:

  1. Worship
  2. Go
  3. Learn
  4. Pray
  5. Bless
  6. Turn
  7. Rest

Today, being the first day of the second week of Advent, is about Worship, and this calendar from the Episcopal Church’s website provides meditations and activities that go along with the theme of the day. Today’s reflection: “Read Luke 3:1-6. How does the story
of John the Baptist fill your heart with hope?” I’ve already answered this question for myself in my first blog post of this season, so I won’t answer it here. I will say, though, that I have not been to an Espiscopal service since before the pandemic. I feel like a bad Episcopalian.

I have to say I miss having a lit Advent wreath at home. It was pretty special when I was a kid, having the wreath on the table and lighting each candle at suppertime. Unfortunately, in a house full of curious cats who don’t have enough sense of self-preservation to keep their noses away from a candle flame, a lit advent wreath just isn’t worth the effort.

Anyway. Happy Advent! Remember, the season of Christmas and the Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day. So there.

Day Three: Glurgle

On Day Three of Pancake’s adventure, we meet her sister and best friend Pep. Pep is a fish, so apparently Pep is adopted, and Pep and Pancake have some sort of arrangement where Pancake doesn’t eat her.

Pep is a fish
Pep is a fish

This is a dramatic moment; you can tell because of the tilted angle of the photograph. This assembly is very fish-like.

Next, we also encounter the house that Pep lives in:

Pep lives in a house
Pep lives in a… house?

Again, I was not sure which wall of the house was the front, but I determined that the fish-shaped flap was the front door. Curiously, there’s no water pump or sign of anything that could support a fish’s above-ground lifestyle. Must be Magic. Hold on to your hats, because there’s more magic coming soon!

You know, I’ve always been intrigued by interspecies friendships and partnerships. From the lowly birds that clean a hippopotamus’s teeth to the fish that befriend the penguins, I find it fascinating. I am also a sucker for heart-warming tales of dogs and cats or deer and possums being snuggle buddies.

In this case, though, Pancake the Penguin has befriended Pep the Fish. This is interesting. It’s like naming your chicken or goat or whatever animal you plan on eating. Once you’ve named such an animal, you’ve shared a bond with it, and it’s hard to do the actual eating when the time comes. The fact that Pep is an adopted sister makes me think it’s Pancake’s mother who initiated the relationship and has passed it on to her daughter.

I could go on and on about the theoretical zoology that goes on behind the scenes of this tale, but I can tell that, biologically speaking, this story is just a disaster in the making.

Stay tuned!

Swimmin’ through Holidailies 2022!

Day Two: Paper House

Well, it’s the second day of December! Today we celebrate Friday, the number 2, and my Mom’s birthday! Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!

It’s also the second day of Pancake the Penguin’s journey. I learned by reading the enclosed materials that I had misgendered Pancake, who is actually a girl penguin and not a boy penguin. This is interesting to me. As a writer, I spend the occasional hour musing about the “default character”, who is not described or not named in a story or novel; introduce such a character, and the reader will almost always automatically assume the character is a white male of about middle age until further specific description is added. There are studies that have been done about this and if I were really inclined to I would find them and link to them.

So shame on me for assuming the same of Pancake.

At any rate, today was the day to build Pancake’s house. Here it is:

Pancake the Penguin's Home
Pancake the Penguin lives here.

I learned that her house is kind of an orange-ish yellow color because it’s the color of pancake syrup, which is the second best thing in the world, second only to pancakes themselves. I think that’s the front door I’ve shown in this picture. No other exterior wall has a door in it.

Jennifer looked at it and said, “Of course it’s the front door! It’s penguin-shaped!” And so it is! Here’s Pancake standing beside the front door of her home:

Pancake the penguin in front of her house
Pancake the penguin in front of her house

As you can see, she does fit in that door! However, it does seem that the house is almost the same size as Pancake. When she is inside, she barely has room to turn around.

Still, it’s fascinating to me that penguins have houses and that some like breakfast foods. The things you learn when you engage with nature!

P.  S. Paper House is also the name of a pretty surreal movie that came out in 1989. Worth watching, if you can find it. My sources tell me it’s streaming on Amazon Prime for $2.99.

‘Tis a frozen day for Holidailies!

Advent! Plus, a NaNoWriMo post-mortem

It’s Advent season, likely my favorite time of the liturgical year. I’m not sure why, because while it’s not Christmas and it’s not Easter by a long shot. I think it’s because, in the Episcopal Church at least, we are in a season of anticipation and waiting for the world to change in the presence of the Christ Child. And the world is changing, in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worse. We’ll see what the next few years bring.

Of course, Advent Season also means Advent Calendars! They’ve been around forever, and I’ve been getting them since I was young. One of my favorites that I can remember was shaped like a zeppelin. It was a folded cardboard zeppelin that you could fold and glue yourself, and the doors of the calendar were attached to the body of the zeppelin. It was super cool. Behind each door was a little picture of an elf or a reindeer or something; I don’t remember that part. I was pretty young, and memory is sketchy with me, unfortunately. Side effect of the bipolar 2 and anxiety disorder, I’m told.

For this year, Jennifer found me Pancake the Penguin’s Christmas Adventure Advent Calendar, and we had to buy it on Amazon because it has penguins and I like penguins. Here’s the, uh, unboxing of this silly calendar.

First, the exterior:

La! It’s an advent calendar, atop my closed laptop! I won’t show all the details of the opened box and all its components because some mystery should remain. But the first assembled penguin sculpture looks like this:

Ta da! A folded paper penguin! He’s called Pancake because he likes pancakes so much that he utterly eschews the traditional penguin diet of herrings and whatever else penguins eat. Peanut butter, probably. I should look that up.

Of course, the problem with having little paper statues of penguins and associated adventurers is that our house is full of cats. I placed Pancake in a place of honor on top of the molding above the door between our dining room and living room. Here he is:

I just realized he’s lurking in shadows in the first picture above. Ah well. I will photograph the rest of them better for you.

And that’s the first day of my Advent calendar for you, but by no means is today the actual first day of Advent. That was last Sunday, the 27th of November. And now you know.

In other news, I did not complete NaNoWriMo this year. It’s interesting to me that I completed this challenge every year from 2001 to 2017 (though I did skip 2002 because I was on the road a lot that year), then… stopped. I haven’t managed it since.  This year, I started The Outer Darkness with grand hopes and only reached 14,370 of the hoped-for 50,000 words. It was interesting, and I had some great ideas, but it wound up being a story about a transwoman and her girlfriend, and ultimately, I felt weird writing about it. I don’t have a problem with transwomen, but it felt weird because this is not my story to tell. I’m not trans, so it’s not in my experience, so how much justice could I have done the topic? I suppose I could have finished and gotten a slew of sensitivity readers to go through it, but ultimately, I just chose to stop writing.

Next year, though… Next year will be better! I swear!

Holidailin’ all over the place in December 2022!